When I was 27 years old, I sat on a pleather exam table and had a doctor two years older than me tell me I had cancer. Everything in my life changed. But, this is actually not why I called my book Everything Changes.
During cancer treatment, many patients rack up hours sitting on their toilets. I kept a big stack of reading material next to mine. I would open to random pages in the Tao de Ching, a Chinese philosophy book written in the 6th century BC. One day in the midst of wishing my life were different, that my body aches would subside, that I would not be single on a Saturday night sitting on the toilet with cancer – I opened to a random page in the Tao de Ching and pointed to the words ‘Everything Changes’. And it is true. I’m now married. I still have cancer but I rarely have body aches. And I spend much less time in the bathroom.
The mantra ‘Everything Changes’ gets me through the hardest moments of living with cancer. No matter what any of us are experiencing right now, a basic truth is that everything changes. It is great to know that I won’t stay stuck anywhere forever.
I’m not naive. I know change could lead me down hill instead of up. But that’s just reality. I don’t need magical thinking to get me through tough times. I just need a bit of truth that keeps me moving forward. Everything changes. That’s real. That’s something I can count on. And in desperate times, having something to count on is my definition of hope.
I loved talking to Tracy, a breast cancer patient in Alabama who I interviewed for my book. Before each treatment, she sat in the parking lot and read Psalm 23. Do you have a favorite quote, phrase, scripture, or mantra that gets you through hard cancer times?